The Young Filmmakers of the Philippines 20 Best Filipino Independent Films (2003-2006)

Dino Manrique's picture

Posted by Filmmakers Filmmakers at the cinemanilafilmfest yahoogroup:

The 20 Best Filipino Independent Films

The Young Filmmakers of the Philippines (YFMP), a group of young filmmakers from different colleges and universities names the 20 best Filipino independent films for the past three years (2004,2005 and 2006). Our criteria for selecting the best films are the quality of the screenplay and the subject matter. We look for something new. The script should be somewhat unconventional and unpredictable. The film depicts Filipino historical and/or cultural values and exemplified artistry, creativity, technical excellence, innovativeness and thematic values.

Also acknowledged were Filipino independent Filmmakers through hard work and dedication filmmakers have proven that this country, which was once a filmic cul-de-sac, when given the right opportunity, now produces some of the world's finest films, responsive to the genuine needs and aspirations of its people.

YFMP announced the 20 Best Filipino Independent Films (in alphabetical order)


Director: Briccio Santos
Screenplay: Jorge Arago
Briccio Santos Cast: Ana Capri, Bo Vicencio, Richard Joson & Willam Baroga Original Music: Bob Aves Anil Rao Cinematography: Briccio Santos Film Editing: Anil Rao

Ala Verde Ala Pobre is the story of Manuel and Jessica, a young couple surviving against the odds in the `Riles´. The Riles is a hustling community of less fortunate people who live along the railroad tracks in makeshift dwellings where anything can happen and often does. With dreams of having a child, they desperately strive for a better way of life.
International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
2005 Cinemanila Film Festival 2nd Best Picture
2005 Cinemanila Film Festival Best Actor and Best Actress


Director: Ramon Mes De Guzman
Cast: Analyn Bangsi-il, Rhenuel Ordoño, Hallen Sumingwa, Jay Bassig, Joey
Almoete.Nemee Tocdangan
Screenplay: Ramon Mes de Guzman
Music: Ramon Mes de Guzman
Cinematography: Albert Banzon

Studying for Jinky, Len-len and Potpot is like a pilgrimage to Calvary. They literally had to cross-mountains and traverse long, winding roads to reach their campus from where they live, in Sitio Kalimugtong, a barrio situated 15 kilometers away. Everyday they, they would be up before sunrise and at four start off to trek the steep and slippery path by the mountainside still blanketed by mist and fog. In their faded sweaters, they would gait down cliffs, cross-treacherous rivers, and climb slick hills until they reach their destination. Such is their determination and faith in the value of education that not even a downpour could dampen their spirit. When there´s rain, they would simply gather giant leaves of the gabi plant to serve as their cover.

Apart from the three main characters, the film will also essay the specific distressing lives of other students such as the one who got involved and died in an encounter between the rebels and the military, those planting vegetables in the cold and steep mountains, if only to underscore the sluggishness of progress in the countryside.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
2006 San Sebastián International Film Festival Best New Director
2006 Gawad URIAN Best Director
2006 GAWAD URIAN Best Production Design

3) Ang Huling Balyan Ng Buhi
Director: Sherad Anthony Sanchez Cast: Ronald Arquillas, Gigi, Marilyn Roque, Jelieta Ruca Screenplay: Sherad Anthony Sanchez Synopsis:

An eccentric and over-protective Balyan (also known as Babaylan) is famed for her spectacles. But one night she performed her last miracle - conception of a stigmata. This supposedly Catholic miracle afflicts everyone around her in their attempt to keep the tradition, religion and practices of the tribe out of the verge of extinction. Her family, the elders and a priest face the dilemma either to keep her final miracle a secret to save the Buhi tribe or reveal it, making their tribe vulnerable to fate and religion susceptible to doubt. Letting be or letting not is a decision they have to make before Idang's funeral rites-as the process shows their choice. It will be a choice of death and transcendence.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
2006 Best Picture Cinema One Originals Awards

4)Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros)

Director: Auraeus Solito Cast: Nathan Lopez, Soliman Cruz, Ping Medina, Neil Ryan Sese, Bodjie Pascua Screenplay: Michiko Yamamoto Original Music by: Pepe Smith and Mike Villegas Cinematography: Nap Jamir Film Editing : Clarence Sison International/Local Awards/Exhibition: 2005: Montréal World Film Festival (Montréal First Film Prize) 2005: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Best Production Design Lily Esquillon Special Citation Nathan Lopez Special Jury Prize Auraeus Solito 2006: Berlin International Film Festival Best Feature Film Auraeus Solito 2006: Cinekid Cinekid Film Award - Honorable Mention Auraeus Solito 2006: Las Palmas Film Festival Best Actor Nathan Lopez Golden Lady Harimaguada Auraeus Solito 2006: Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize World Cinema - Dramatic Auraeus Solito 2006: Torino International

Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Best Feature Film Auraeus Solito 2006: Gawad Urian Awards Best Picture (Gawad Urian Award)

5) Ang Pamana (The Inheritance)
Director: Romeo Candido Cast: Darrel Gamotin, Caroline Mangosing, Nadine Villasin, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia, Phoemela Baranda, Noni Buencamino, Tirso Cruz III, Victor Neri Screenplay:Romeo Candido Carmen De Jesus Ria Limjap Original Music by Gerard Salonga Cinematography: Odyssey Flores Film Editing : Romeo Candido Production Design: Benjamin Padero Synopsis: When the De Jesus family gets word in Canada that their family matriarch, Lola (Grandma) Nena has died in the Philippines, Johnny and his sister Anna are put in charge of representing their parents in Manila for the reading of the will. Dark family secrets, shocking revelations, and a world of supernatural forces await...

"Ang Pamana:The Inheritance" is the story of the fears we carry and the ones that refuse to be left behind, a supernatural thriller drawing from age-old Filipino folklore primed to frighten a whole new generation.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition: 2006 (Hawaii Film Festival) 2007 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

6) Batad : Sa Paang Palay

Directors:Vic Acedillo & Benji Garcia Cast: Gina Alajar, Noni Buencamino, Alcris Galura, A.A. Fernandez, Paolo O'Hara,Joe Gruta Screenplay: Vic Acedillo Rroduction Design: Abet Santos and Noel Navarro Synopsis:

A 14-year old Batad Boy, a high school dropout, is forced to sell produce in the Banawe market to augment the family income while his father pursues the philantrophic mission of repairing the rice terraces of adjoining Ifugao villages. Exposed to Western modernization in Banawe, the boy obsesses with owning a pair of rubber shoes that he does not really need. In pursuit of his dream sneakers, he takes on all odd jobs imaginable and ultimately becomes a tour guide. During one of his tours, he barters his guide fee for a pair of shoes which are, however, too big for him. Upon possessing the long-desired rubber shoes, he attempts to leave his Ifugao roots and chase big city dreams.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition: 2006 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
Best Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Actor
2007 Golden Screen Awards
Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor, Best Production Design, Best Musical Score,
2007 Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California


Directors: Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon Cast: Ian Gamazon, Neill Dela Llana, Rico V. Lagda, Dominique Gonzalez Screenplay: Neill Dela Llana,Ian Gamazon Cinematography:Neill Dela Llana Film Editing :Neill Dela Llana Ian Gamazon

Adam, a security guard, travels from California to the Philippines, his native land, for his father's funeral. He arrives in Manila. As he waits, a phone rings in his backpack; he answers it, and a male voice tells him that his mother and sister are captives and will be killed if Adam doesn't cooperate. Over the next hour, the voice sends Adam by bus, taxi, motorized tricycle, and on foot through an urban landscape of busy streets, cramped apartments, a fetid squatters' camp, a bank, a cockfighting arena, and a church. Adam's conversations with the voice cover murder, Islam, jihad, rebellion in Mindanao, and his family. What is it Adam will be commanded to do? Will he acquiesce?

International/Local Awards/Exhibition: 2005 Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award
2006 Independent Spirit Awards- Someone to Watch Award


Director: Will Fredo
Cast: John Arcilla, Janet Russ, Jake Macapagal, Liza Diño,
Joan Palisoc, Perry Escaño,Lily Chu, Marq Dollentes
Screenplay: Will Fredo
Original Music: Bob Aves Cinematography: Will Fredo Gene Gallardo Peter John Sta. Maria Film Editing:Will Fredo Production Design:Gregory Macaraeg Ida Tiongson

Shielding his family from a looming misfortune, Virgilio delos Reyes keeps appearances through the aid of crystal methamphetamine. Virgilio and his wife received Jay Juanillo as their tenant to occupy one of the houses in their compound. Jay, who himself is trying to escape the realities of his life with his wife and a young male lover, settles in and builds relations with the delos Reyes family. From the seeming idyllic setting, Jay witnesses the slow implosion of the delos Reyes family and gets tangled in the power struggle within the compound. As Virgilio´s paranoia escalates, Jay becomes an easy target, a scapegoat of Virgilio´s inability to distinguish reality and hallucination. When their strategies of escape break down and reality catches up with them, the violence outside the gates finds its way into the compound.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition: 2006 Cleveland International Film Festival
2006 Washington DC Gay and Lesbian Festival


Director: Ramon Mez de Guzman Cast: Cris Villanueva, Ronnie Quizon, Ermie Concepcion, Perry Dizon, Lyn Rona Montebanon Screenplay:Albert Banzon Original Music:Ed Manguz Khavn Sem Cinematography: Bahaghari Albert Banzon Film Editing:Abbas Tabas Production Design:Cesar Hernando


Directed by:Adolfo Alix Jr. Cast : Sid Lucero, Angel Aquino, Cherie Gil, Mark Gil, Jacklyn Jose, Bembol Roco, Screenplay: Adolfo Alix Jr. Original Music: Jesse Lucas Cinematography: Eli Balce Film Editing by:Tara Illenberger Production Design : Gessan Enriquez

Donsol, a fishing town in Sorsogon province, serves as a sanctuary to a group of whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. Locally, known as butanding, whale sharks visit the waters of Donsol from November to May. In this film, Donsol is a place of refuge for the butanding but also a holding pen for lost and lonely people who wish for things they are no longer likely to get. Daniel, a Butanding Interaction Officer who accompanies tourists on whale watching expeditions and assists them in interacting with the sharks, is a broken hearted man who meets an older woman, Teresa, a widow fighting breast cancer. The two share their miseries and discover that they like being together. Will their newfound bond be strong or will it be blown along with the amihan wind which signals the end of the butanding migratory visit to the small town?

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
WINNER - Jury Prize for Best Low Budget Feature
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 2006

WINNER - Special Jury Prize
Asian Marine Film Festival 2006 (Japan)

Best Actress, Best Cinematography
Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2006

Monaco International Film Festival 2006

Cairo International Film Festival 2006

Asian Festival of 1st Films (Singapore)

Dominican Republic International Film Festival

11.Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (Evolution of a Filipino Family)

Director: Lav Diaz
Cast : Pen Medina, Ronnie Lazaro, Roeder, Joel Torre, Lui Manansala, Banaue Miclat, Angie Ferro Cinematography: Bahaghari Larry Manda Paul Tañedo Film Editing: Lav Diaz Production Design by: Patty Eustaquio Rishab Jun Sabayton 2004 Cinemanila International Film Festival Lino Brocka Award Nominated 2005 Gawad Urian Awards Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Screenplay, Nominated: Best Actor Pen Medina, Ronnie Lazaro, Nominated: Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Sound Nominated: Best Supporting Actor, Roeder, Best Supporting Actress Angie Ferro

12.Inang Yaya (Mother Nanny)

Directors: Pablo Biglangawa, Veronica Velasco Screenplay:Veronica Velasco Cast: Maricel Soriano, Sunshine Cruz, Zoren Legaspi, Tala Santos and Erika Oreta, Liza Lorena & Kalilia Aguiluz

Because Norma must work in the city, she has to leave behind her daughter Ruby in the province with her mother. But when nobody can look after Ruby anymore, Norma has no choice but to bring Ruby to live with her in the house of her employers and the latter's daughter Louise. There, Norma must try to balance who she devotes her attention to: her own daughter or her ward?

13.Kaleldo (Summer Heat)

Director: Brillante Mendoza Cast: Johnny Delgado, Cherry Pie Picache, Angel Aquino, Juliana Palermo, Allan Paule, Criselda Volks, Miguel Faustmann, Liza Lorena, Ama Quiambao Scrteenplay:Boots Agbayani Pastor Original Music: Jerrold Tarog Cinematography: Odyssey Flores Film Editing b:Mark Philipp Espina Production Design:Benjamin Padero

The story is set in Guagua, Pampanga a decade after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo which ravaged the province with lahar. It follows the lives of Rodolfo "Mang Rudy" Manansala, a woodcarver, and his three daughters and their relationships with the people close to them in the span of seven summers. Grace, the youngest daughter, marries the mama's boy Conrad, and has to face the reality of leaving the ancestral house, to which she is deeply rooted, to go and live with her in-laws. Much against her will, to the point of staging a escape, she yields to the dictates of tradition. Yet she manages to cope up with married life, and on the fourth year of her marriage gets pregnant with her second child. Lourdes, the middle daughter and married to the weakling Andy Pineda with whom she has a daughter, goes into an illicit affair with a bank manager, for which reason Mang Rudy succumbs to a heart attack and becomes bedridden.. The story is told in three segments, with each segment told from the point of view of the three daughters. Attached to each segment are social occasion popularly observed in the Philippines, with a symbolic motif for each, represented by the elements sun, fire, water, air, blood, moon and earth. With Rowena's wedding at the end of the film, as in Grace's wedding at the start, a full cycle of life transpired

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
1st Rome International Filmfest
Best Actress winner 28th Durban International Film Festival in South Africa.
Cinemavvenire special award in Torino International Filmfest

14.Kubrador (The Bet Collector)

Director: Jeffrey Jeturian
Cast :Gina Pareño,Fonz Deza,Nanding Josef,Johnny Manahan,,
Kubrador is a film that centers on jueteng, the game of numbers dating back to the Philippines' Spanish colonial period from (1521 to 1898).

The movie chronicles three days in the life of Amelita, a kubrador (bookie) for the illegal numbers game jueteng. She continues to collect bets from her regular patrons every day despite a government crackdown on the game. One day, she is apprehended by the police. She joins other kubradors in the police station until their protector bails them out.
The following morning, Amelita returns to the streets and continues her illegal activities. She meets the parish priest, who informs her of a young neighbor's sudden accidental death. He asks her to collect donations from neighbors and friends. Then, a series of events turns her mundane existence into a perplexing game of life, luck and death.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
The movie so far has won 4 international prizes: 2006 FIPRESCI Prize, 2006 Moscow International Film Festival Best Picture, Best Actress (Gina Pareno) and FIPRESCI Prize, 8th Osian-Cinefan International Film Festival (New Delhi, India)

The movie has been accepted by a total of 16 international film festivals: 1. World Premiere at the 28th Moscow International Film Festival, Russia June 23-July 2, 2006 where it won the FIPRESCI Award 2. Asian Premiere at the 8th Osian-Cinefan International Film Festival, New Delhi, India, July 14-23, 2006 where it bagged Best Picture, Best Actress and its 2nd FIPRESCI Prize 3. North American premiere at 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, Canada from September 7-16, 2006 4. 2006 Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada from September 28-October 13, 2006 5. Turkish premiere at the 2nd International Eurasia Film Festival in Antalya from September 16-23, 2006 6. Bollywood premiere at Mumbai's 5th Asian Film Festival from October 12-19, 2006 7. 2006 Pusan International Film Festival, Korea from October 12-20, 2006 8. UK premiere at the 50th London International Film Festival, October 18-November 2, 2006 9. US premiere at the Louis Vitton-Hawaii International
Film Festival From October 19-29, 2006 10. Latin American premiere at 30th São Paulo International Film Festival / 30ª Mostra Internacional de Cinema, Brazil from October 21-November 3, 2006 11. Balkan premiere at Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece From November 7-23, 2006 12. Western European premiere at the 33rd Brussels International Independent Film Festival from November 7-12, 2006 13. French premiere at the 26th Festival International du Film d'Ameins (in competition) from 10-19 November 2006 14. Italian premiere at the Asiatica Film Mediale in Rome from November.18-26, 2006 15. Iberian premiere at the Sección Oficial of Spain's 51st Valladolid International Film Festival from October 20-28, 2006 16. Kubrador will be competing for the Golden Kinnaree award for Best Film in Competition during the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival from January 26-February 5, 2007.

15.Lagusan (The Tunnel)

Director: Gina Marissa Tagasa
Cast: Cris Villanueva, Gina Pareño, Alfred Vargas, Richard Reynoso, ,Alchris Galura
Screenplay: Gina Marissa Tagasa

In "Ang Lagusan," a woman named Ason , an abortionist and the mother of Joe l (Cris Villanueva), a traveler who woke up on a ship deck and who knew nothing of his real identity.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
Best Drama Feature Film at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival 2004 .


Director: Brillante Mendoza Cast: Jonalyn Ablong Screenplay: Ralston Jover Original Music: Jerrold Tarog Cinematography: Brillante Mendoza Film Editing: Charliebebs Gohetia

Synopsis: It´s presidential election time once again and like the rest of their fellow Filipinos, the Native Aetas are required to vote. But how could be a community if most of the elders do not know how to read and write. A young Aeta girl has the answer. International/Local Awards/Exhibition: Torino International Filmfest

17. Rigodon
Directors: Sari Raissa Lluch Dalena,Keith Sicat Cast: Joel Torre, Arthur Acuña, Chin Chin Gutierrez, Stéphanie Ruaux, Keith Barber, Banaue Miclat, Olga Natividad, Andrew Eisenman, Randy Rand Original Music: Roberto Aves Kinan Azmeh Grace Nono Cinematography: Eun-ah Lee Film Editing:Keith Sicat

RIGODON follows the spiritual journey's of three Filipino immigrants in New York City whose lives intertwine in the age of racial profiling and government crackdowns.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:
Best Feature Film Award 2006 International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers, Greece
2006 Montreal World Film Festival
It was recently shown at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and is set to screen at the Institute of Contemporary Art as part of the Boston Asian-American Film Festival, Austin Asian Film Festival and Chicago Filipino-American Film Festival in November.

18. Rome and Juliet
Director: Connie Macatuno Cast: Mylene Dizon, Andrea Del Rosario, Rafael Rosell, Tessie Tomas, Glydel Mercado, Screenplay: Chris Violago Synopsis:

ROME AND JULIET follows the romantic journey and soul mating of two straight women caught in a web of forbidden love. Juliet (a conservative pre-school teacher) is a bride to be who befriends and hires Rome (a liberated businesswoman) as her wedding planner. As they go through the preparations, Rome and Juliet develop a deep friendship, a soulful connection and a love that is physically consummated. But conflicts arise when Marc, the groom who is a young politician, shockingly discovers the ongoing relationship between the two women. Angered and humiliated, Marc calls off the wedding and a huge scandal explodes, leaving Rome and Juliet in a state of emotional turmoil. Not long after, Juliet is driven away from home by her mother, gets fired from work and later becomes a victim of a road mishap that puts her in a coma. But in the end, despite all the trials and hurdles Rome and Juliet's unconventional love for each other remains strong and intense.

19. Sa Aking Pagkakagising Mula Kamulatan

Director:Ato Bautista Cast: Carlo Aquino, Ketchup Eusebio, Luane Dy, Cholo Barretto, Lito Pimentel, Cinematography: Odyssey Flores Production Design: Dante Nico Garcia

Synopsis: Rey is a meek teenager lives in the slum of Manila. He tries to stay away from the no-good bullies in the area but the notorious gang led by Pogi , catches up with him inevitably. Rey got on the bad side of Pogi because his girlfriend is Pogi´s object of desire. The tormentors gang up on him, leaving him bruised and black and blue all over. When he comes to, the bad boys are in a drunken stupor. What will Rey do next? International/Local Awards/Exhibition:

20. Tulad ng Dati (JUST LIKE BEFORE)

Director: Mike Sandejas

Cast:The Dawn, Jet Pangan, JB Leonor, Francis Reyes, Buddy Zabala, Agot Isidro, Carlos Balcells, Mylene Dizon, Zoe Sandejas, Raffy Francisco, and Ping Medina

Tulad ng Dati follows the current exploits of the Filipino rock band, The Dawn, composed of Teddy Diaz, JB Leonor, Caloy Balcells and Jett Pangan. During the second half of the 1980s, the band had risen to become the most influential musical rock group of the time. At the height of their popularity, their leader, Teddy Diaz is murdered. The remaining members decide to continue on with the music but eventually disband in 1996. In 2003, The Dawn reunited.

Tulad ng Dati starts in 2006. It revolves around the character of Jett Pangan who is nearing his forties. Jett has lost his passion for music and life and entertains thoughts of retiring from the band. On a fateful night, Jett is assaulted by a burglar and goes into a coma. He wakes up with no memory of his life after 1988. He remembers that he is 20 years old and is at the peak of his career with The Dawn. Not satisfied with how things turned out with his life, he tries to change everything back to to the way it used to be. The path he takes while finding his place in this strange new world proves itself to be a tough.

International/Local Awards/Exhibition:

2006 Cinemalaya Best Picture